Coffee from Seed to Cup: A Case Study in Sustainable Agriculture*

Instructor: Dr. Amanda Caudill

Spring 2017: January 19, 26, February 2, 9, 16 (5 sessions; Thursdays, 6:10-8:10 PM)

Call Number: 29717
Course Number: ENVBN0333

*This course falls within the Sustainable Food Systems Track


Coffee is a tropical crop grown in regions of the world that host high levels of biodiversity. The way that coffee farms are managed can have a large impact on the local wildlife communities that live in and around coffee farms. Although consumers in import countries pay top dollar for their cup of coffee, many coffee farmers across the globe struggle to support themselves and their families. Can coffee farms be managed in a way that protect wildlife habit and the environment, while at the same time producing a viable, profitable crop for the farmers?

This course explores this question and others related to the complexities surrounding coffee sustainability. We will investigate the coffee industry from seed to cup and have an opportunity to connect with coffee farmers, researchers, roasters/shop owners, and consumers. We will examine coffee farms through case studies; assess coffee certifications such as shade grown, organic, Rainforest Alliance, and Smithsonian Bird Friendly; learn about socio-economics and environmental issues associated with coffee; and gain an understanding of the challenges that farmers face and the nuances involved in defining sustainable coffee.

Dr. Amanda Caudill is a conservation ecologist and research scientist and an alumni of Columbia University and the CERC certificate program. She has recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the Smithsonian Institution. She has worked with coffee sustainability from seed to cup and has conducted field work in coffee-growing regions of India, Costa Rica, and Mexico. She is interested in sustainable agriculture as a means to provide wildlife habitat, foster ecosystem services, and conserve biodiversity, while simultaneously providing for human livelihoods.